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Commonwealth of Massachusetts

NO. BD-2001-035

IN RE: RICHARD R. HOWARTH JR.

S.J.C. Judgment of Disbarment entered by Justice Sosman on December 12, 2003.1

SUMMARY2

The respondent was admitted to the bar of the Commonwealth on December 15, 1993. He has never been admitted to practice law in Rhode Island.

On May 17, 2001, the respondent was found guilty in the Providence Superior Court, State of Rhode Island, of the felony offenses of obtaining funds exceeding $500 by false pretenses and of making a false statement to obtain a credit card. The court deferred imposition of a sentence and required the respondent to pay $7200 in restitution. The respondentís conduct violated Mass. R. Prof. C. 8.4(b) and (h).

On April 24, 2003, the respondent was convicted in the 6th Division of the District Court of the State of Rhode Island of disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor. He was sentenced to a suspended sentence of six months and placed on probation with the condition that he complete twenty-five hours of community service. This conduct was in violation of Mass. R. Prof. C. 8.4(b) and (h).

On May 13, 2003, the respondent was convicted in the Providence Superior Court of felony embezzlement of over $100. The respondent induced the victims of the embezzlement to entrust funds to him by holding himself out as a Rhode Island lawyer. The respondent was placed on probation for fifty-eight months and required to make $5,469.00 in restitution. The respondentís criminal conduct violated Canon One, Disciplinary Rules 1-102(A)(4) and (6); Canon Three, Disciplinary Rule 3-101(B), and Canon Nine, Disciplinary Rules 9-102(A) and (B).

On May 15, 2003, the respondent was found to have violated the deferred sentences imposed on May 17, 2001, and was convicted and sentenced on both matters to suspended sentences and probation of fifty-eight months. This conduct violated Mass. R. Prof. C. 8.4(b), (d), and (h).

On September 17, 2001, the respondent was temporarily suspended from the practice of law in Massachusetts. The respondent did not comply with the obligations imposed by the order of temporary suspension. Among other things, he did not file an affidavit of compliance in appropriate form, he did not account for funds he held as an attorney or fiduciary, and he continued to hold himself out as ďEsq.Ē on his letterhead. In addition, the respondent held himself out to at least one Massachusetts resident as a lawyer and took a fee of $1500 to represent that resident in a dispute.

On October 16, 2002, bar counsel filed a petition to hold the respondent in contempt for his failure to abide by the courtís temporary suspension order. After notice and hearing, at which the respondent did not appear, the Supreme Judicial Court for Suffolk County held the respondent in contempt. The respondent was ordered to disgorge the fee he had collected and to file adequate proof with the court by no later than December 2, 2002, that he had complied with the order of temporary suspension. The respondent failed to comply with the order of contempt and has not purged the contempt. The respondentís conduct in violating the courtís orders and in holding himself out as a lawyer during his suspension violated Mass. R. Prof. C. 5.5(a) and 8.4(c), (d), and (h).

Bar counsel filed a petition for discipline on July 15, 2003. The respondent did not answer the petition for discipline and was defaulted on August 12, 2003. The respondent did not participate in any further bar discipline proceedings. Bar counsel recommended that the respondent be disbarred without retroactivity to the date of the temporary suspension.

On October 20, 2003, the Board of Bar Overseers voted to recommend to the court that the respondent be disbarred effective on the date of entry. On November 3, 2003, an Information and the record of proceedings before the Board of Bar Overseers were filed with the Supreme Judicial Court for Suffolk County.

The county court set a hearing on the Information for December 10, 2003. The respondent did not appear at the hearing. On December 12, 2003, the county court entered judgment for disbarment effective upon entry of the judgment.

1 The complete Order of the Court is available by contacting the Clerk of the Supreme Judicial Court for Suffolk County.

2 Compiled by the Board of Bar Overseers based on the record before the Court.



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